Angela Merkel and Christian Hirte © Swen Pfortner
The German government's new envoy to the East has hardly made any headlines so far. In the context of the Reformation commemoration, Christian Hirte nevertheless emphatically set accents in his constituency around Wartburg Castle.
The "voice of the East" in the new federal government once again comes from Thuringia. Following in the footsteps of SPD politician Iris Gleicke, CDU member of parliament Christian Hirte is now charged in the black-red cabinet with representing the interests of the eastern German states in a special way.
Confessing Catholic and pro-life activist
The appointment of the 41-year-old lawyer and tax expert as Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics came as a surprise. For three weeks, Brandenburg CDU member of parliament and Protestant pastor Michael Stubgen (58) was considered a shoo-in for the post.
Now a professing Catholic represents the majority of East Germans who are far from the church. As Hirte professes on his website, he "regularly" reaches for the Bible. In the diocese of Erfurt, in which his West Thuringian constituency is located, the deputy CDU state chairman is considered to be rooted in the faith and value-oriented.
In his involvement with the "Christian Democrats for Life," the father of three is reportedly open to dialogue with other positions on ies of the protection of life.
Commitment to the anniversary of the Reformation
The diaspora Catholic is connected to the Protestant Church not only through his civilian service in a senior citizens' and nursing home run by the Diakonie in Bad Salzungen, the town of his birth.
As Hirte points out on his website, as a member of the Bundestag he was particularly committed to the "Reformation anniversary" in 2017 and the theme years leading up to it.
In two "Luther Papers" from 2008 and 2010, he pressed for appropriate consideration of Thuringia and his constituency, which he has represented since 2008, with concrete proposals right at the beginning of his time as a parliamentarian.
Promotion of the "Luther Way
For example, he successfully lobbied for the national special exhibition "Luther and the Germans" to come to Wartburg Castle. He also credits the federal government for funding the Reformation commemoration with several million euros annually.
Shepherd also combines religious conviction and economic thinking in his commitment to "spiritual tourism," for example in the form of the "Luther Trail," which is a tourist route linking important sites of the Reformation.
In these areas, the CDU politician has already shown action. As the commissioner for "Reconstruction East," he will have to prove his ability to assert himself in many other political and economic fields.